steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

World War Two as Pas de Deux

It's often said, with some justice, that the British harp on too much about the Second World War, to say nothing of its sporting avatar, the 1966 World Cup Final. Large though it looms here, however, that conflict (I mean WWII) sometimes seems still more central in France, and in an oddly tunnel-visioned way. I noted that some time ago President Sarkozy's curious taking of national pride in the fact that France did not invent the Final Solution, as if France and Germany were the only two countries in the world; and his speech to the EU summit in Brussels today was another example of the same phenomenon. In particular, he chose to address criticisms that France and Germany are railroading their solution to the Euro crisis through without properly involving the other 25 member states, by invoking the history of Franco-German conflicts from 1870 to 1940. According to the Europolitics web site:

He mentioned the particular obligation on Germany and France to agree, given their “70 years of deadly confrontations that nearly demolished the entire European continent and the world”. “We have more responsibilities than the others,” he added, before explaining: “Without agreement between France and Germany, agreement as 27 would be impossible”.

It's a strange form of penance in which extra responsibility translates into the right to dictate terms to everyone else. But it also strikes me as bizarre that Sarkozy feels comfortable characterizing WWI and WWII as, in effect, wars between France and Germany. Weren't some of the other countries at the current summit involved too? If the non-collaborating portion of France was put under occupation in 1940, weren't there occupations still more brutal in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands, and several more besides? Does Sarkozy really think the French role in that conflict more significant than that of the British - or even of the Finns? (I believe the Americans, Japanese, Russians, etc, may also have been involved.)

It's a curious form of delusion. But no one shouted him down.
Tags: current affairs
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